I lived a Rocket Power-appreciative life until I was fourteen (oh, who am I kidding? I still live a Rocket Power-appreciative life.) Rocket Power was a Nickelodeon show that began in 1999 and was about a group of skateboarding, rollerblading, surfing, snowboarding kids. They were beyond passionate about every extreme sport they could find. The group was made up of three boys named Otto, Twister and Sam, and one girl named Reggie.
I wanted to be Reggie so badly. She was so cool. She had purple hair, wore baggy camouflage pants, and she was just as good as the boys at extreme sports.
We had a lot in common, her and me. I didn’t have purple hair or camouflage pants, but I did wear practical clothing (read: baggy and old), I was just as good skateboarding, rollerblading, and bmx-ing as the boys, and I was catching up in snowboarding.
Feel free to think I was good on any objective level. But honestly, I only had one boy to compare myself to—my cousin—and we were equal in most sports, except he was better at snowboarding.
My cousin, my two sisters, and I made our own ragtag version of the Rocket Power gang. We lived in the country, so we couldn’t exactly go to a skate park, but our grandparents had a big concrete slab and a two-story barn, and those worked well enough for us. During the summer or whenever it wasn’t too wet outside, we brought our rollerblades, skateboards and bikes to the concrete slab before lunch. Then we would set up ramps with the scrap wood in the tractor shed; We became ramp connoisseurs; we knew which wood was strong enough to launch off of and how to smooth out the entry side of boards that were too thick to skate over. We made them so strong that they could even withstand the little Yamaha dirt bike that was part of our extreme sports repertoire. Some of those ramps stayed standing for weeks, in utter disregard for any use our grandpa might have had for the concrete slab.
We never went to actual skate parks. The only official sports areas I ever went to was Mt. Hood Meadows for snowboarding with my cousin. I didn’t like the idea of rules constraining how I skated: helmets and strangers. Half the appeal of skating was the freedom of being intense and unsupervised, wheels sparking with power and speed.
Sweaty, smelling of gasoline, grease and dust, hungry and thirsty, sore lungs from pushing my body to the brink: those sensations spell nostalgia and my body remembers them every time the weather gets warm.
I’m an adult now. I have a college degree. I like to sit inside with coffee and a book. But in my heart, I will always be Reggie. And just when I begin to think I’ve outgrown her, the nostalgia wind blows and I am eleven again, I want to take my skateboard out of my closet; I want to feel the sweat down my back and I want the wind to dry me off. And I end up taking out my skateboard, rollerblades and bicycle, every summer.